If you're on the hunt for cheap car insurance, the best strategies include comparing quotes, asking about discounts and -- as much as possible -- keeping a clean driving record and good credit.

It's easy to compare car insurance and quotes are always free. Rates can vary dramatically among insurers, and the cheapest car insurance company for someone with a good driving record isn't always the cheapest for someone who has had accidents or claims.

Auto insurance rates statistics

Best auto insurance rates by company

Here's a look at how prices can vary among insurers. These rates are based on premiums reported by EverQuote users who have good driving records and typical coverage levels.

Rank Insurance company Average annual premium
1 Shelter Insurance $1,453
2 Erie Insurance $1,488
3 The Hartford $1,549
4 American Family $1,551
5 PEMCO Insurance $1,554
6 Ameriprise $1,561
7 Metropolitan Insurance Co. $1,563
8 Grange $1,565
9 21st Century Insurance $1,638
10 American Alliance $1,646
11 Auto-Owners Insurance $1,671
12 Safeway Insurance $1,688
13 American National $1,709
14 Mercury Insurance $1,711
15 Arbella $1,718
16 COUNTRY Financial $1,720
17 Dairyland Insurance $1,726
18 Farmers Insurance $1,732
19 State Farm $1,738
20 AAA Insurance/ Auto Club $1,746
21 Allied $1,747
22 Nationwide Insurance $1,749
23 USAA $1,769
24 Safeco $1,776
25 MAPFRE Insurance $1,783
26 Allstate $1,784
27 Commerce Insurance $1,795
28 GEICO $1,802
29 Amica $1,817
30 The General $1,852
31 Infinity Insurance $1,852
32 Windhaven $1,877
33 National General $1,879
34 Liberty Mutual $1,879
35 Citizens $1,882
35 Progressive $1,889
37 Esurance $1,900
38 Elephant Insurance $1,902
39 NJM Insurance $1,908
40 Plymouth Rock $2,006
Source: EverQuote. See full methodology below.

Keys to cheap car insurance

Keep a clean driving record

Avoiding accidents, violations and claims will help you get the best auto insurance rates possible. That's because all of them can lead to rate increases. EverQuote looked at the difference premiums reported by users with clean driving records vs. those with an accident and found an average increase of 34%.

Avg. premium for clean driving record $1,773
Avg. premium for driving record with one at-fault accident $2,379
Percent increase due to accident 34%

Maintain good credit

Did you know that having poor credit can affect your car insurance rates even more than an accident or ticket? Auto insurers say that poor credit correlates to a higher chance someone will make a claim. So they often use "credit-based insurance scores" as a major factor in pricing. The practice is banned in California, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

While improving credit can take months or years, it pays off in multiple ways:

  • Cheaper car insurance.
  • Better rates on a mortgage.
  • Lower rates for car loans.
  • Better credit card rates and access to cards with more perks.

Get car insurance discounts

Ask your insurance agent to review the possible discounts a company has, both when you buy a policy and regularly after that.

The discount for bundling home and auto insurance with the same insurer is generally one of the bigger discounts you can get. You can often also bundle auto insurance with renters, condo, mobile home or manufactured home insurance to get cheap car insurance.

Other common discounts include:

  • Insuring more than one vehicle with the same company.
  • Being a good student or having a student away at school without a car.
  • Going paperless by receiving policies and bills electronically.
  • Having car-safety features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes.
  • Having an anti-theft device such as a car-tracking device.
  • Loyalty as a customer over the years.
  • Taking a defensive driving class, sometimes offered specifically to drivers age 55 and older.

Choose a vehicle that's cheap to insure

Insurance companies look at the "claims history" of vehicles to help determine rates. If other drivers of your model of car tend to crash a lot or make insurance claims, rates for the vehicle can rise for everyone. Here's a list of the cheapest cars to insure.

Drop collision and comprehensive coverage on older cars

There's no need to pay for insurance that has little potential benefit. That could be the case if you're paying for comprehensive and collision insurance on an older vehicle.

Collision and comprehensive coverage pay for damage to a vehicle for problems like hail, theft, animal collisions and crashes into objects like trees. The most it will pay is the value of the vehicle, minus your deductible. On an older vehicle, that insurance check may not amount to much.

A search for cheap car insurance is good to do on a regular basis. Auto insurance companies change their rates frequently so spending some time getting quotes can be worth it.

Methodology for average premiums: Premiums were reported by EverQuote users, based on policies with 100/300/50 in liability insurance and 100/300 in uninsured motorist coverage. Rates are based on single vehicles with one driver who has a good driving record with no violations. Premiums for sedans, coupes and hatchbacks were averaged. Premiums are based on expenditures reported between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2018. Your own rates will be different.

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